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Knee pain and aging

An older man grimaces as he holds his knee.

Get answers about knee pain, its causes and what you can do about it.

Aches and pains are common as we age—but are they normal? Here are answers to some common questions about knee pain and aging.

Q. Is knee pain a normal part of aging?

According to the American Geriatrics Society Foundation for Health in Aging, knee pain is common among older people. As people age, their muscles and bones lose mass and the cartilage inside the knee can wear away, leading to conditions such as osteoarthritis. But that doesn't mean you should accept pain as a normal part of getting older. There are ways to treat and prevent knee pain. Getting help for knee pain can help you stay active—an important part of staying healthy as you age.

Q. What are some of the causes of knee pain?

Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of joint problems in older adults. According to Health in Aging, arthritis affects half of all Americans over the age of 65. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), other common causes of knee pain include tendinitis, gout, rheumatoid arthritis and injuries. Some of these conditions, including tendinitis and osteoarthritis, are more common among older adults, according to Health in Aging, but they can occur at any age.

Q. What treatments are there for knee pain?

Your healthcare provider can find the cause of your knee pain and suggest treatments that can help. There are many ways to get relief for knee pain, including lifestyle changes and exercise. Your healthcare provider might also suggest over-the-counter or prescription medicines to manage your knee pain. They may recommend that you see an orthopedic surgeon or physical therapist.

Q. When is it time to consider surgery?

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, your healthcare provider may recommend knee surgery if other treatments don't relieve your pain. There are different kinds of knee surgery, including total knee replacement or surgery to repair damage to the knee joint. The best course of treatment will depend on your overall health and what is causing your knee pain.

Reviewed 10/7/2021

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